Concise, critical reviews of books, exhibitions, and projects in all areas and periods of art history and visual studies

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Olga Bush
Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018. 344 pp.; 94 color ills.; 21 b/w ills. €95.00 (9781474416504)
The Alhambra has long been an accessible entryway into a powerful kind of Orientalist romanticism, capturing the minds and words of writers, rulers, artists, and art historians alike. Constructed at the end of the ninth century, expanded as a palace in the twelfth and thirteenth under the Nasrid dynasty (1230–1492), before falling into disrepair from the Reconquista until the nineteenth century, the Alhambra inspired Europeans with its arabesque ornamental scheme and poetic Arabic... Full Review
February 11, 2019
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Hollis Clayson and André Dombrowski, eds.
London: Routledge, 2016. 306 pp.; 67 color ills. Cloth $160.00 (9781472460141)
There are times when divergent academic and ideological interests come together unexpectedly; these events can yield new scholarly insights even as they lay bare disciplinary antagonisms. A 2009 symposium at the Clark Art Institute was just such an occasion. Its interrogatory title Is Paris Still the Capital of the 19th Century? signaled the conveners’ interest in the legacies of Charles Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, and T. J. Clark for the writing of nineteenth-century art history.... Full Review
February 8, 2019
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Bahattin Öztuncay and Özge Ertem, eds.
Exh. cat. Istanbul: ANAMED, 2018. 180 pp. Cloth $62.95 (9786052116487)
Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED), Istanbul, Turkey, May 10–September 30, 2018
The catalogue Ottoman Arcadia: The Hamidian Expedition to the Land of Tribal Roots (1886) accompanied its namesake exhibition in Istanbul curated by Bahattin Öztuncay, Ahmet Ersoy, and Deniz Türker. The exhibition displayed the Bismarck Gift Albums, three photographic albums prepared by the court of Ottoman sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876–1909) as an official gift for Otto von Bismarck (d. 1890), Germany’s long-term legendary chancellor. These albums (acquired by the Omer M. Koç... Full Review
February 6, 2019
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Nicola Suthor
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018. 240 pp.; 25 color ills.; 57 b/w ills.; 82 ills. Cloth $60.00 (9780691172446)
The Dutch painter, printmaker, and draftsman Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–69) died three hundred fifty years ago (the anniversary this year is being marked by exhibitions and events worldwide) and for much of that time, his art has been the object of avid consumption, artistic emulation, and scholarly scrutiny. Responses have ranged from adulation to disgust, but apathy has seldom been one of them. Thus, it is a daunting challenge to say something new about this endlessly fascinating and... Full Review
February 4, 2019
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Sharon Farmer
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016. 368 pp.; 28 color ills. Cloth $69.95 (9780812248487 )
The release of Sharon Farmer’s most recent book, The Silk Industries of Medieval Paris: Artisanal Migration, Technological Innovation, and Gendered Experience, was eagerly awaited. With this study, the author tackles an exciting and ambitious project: to reconsider the history of silk industries in medieval Paris and question its origins. Exploiting with ease all sources available, Farmer demonstrates that from the last decade of the thirteenth century to the late fourteenth, Paris... Full Review
January 30, 2019
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Meredith Cohen
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 400 pp.; 16 color ills.; 138 b/w ills. Hardcover $120.00 (9781107025578)
The Sainte-Chapelle de Paris is renowned as a monumental reliquary, designed for King Louis IX (r. 1214–70, canonized 1297), to guard the Crown of Thorns and other Passion relics. Its fame is matched only by praise (then and now) for its dazzling Gothic beauty. Despite its importance, few historians have attempted to understand its design. Meredith Cohen’s book fills this void by offering new insight into its architectural significance. The text is organized into five chapters that analyze... Full Review
January 28, 2019
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Penelope Curtis
New Haven and London: Yale University Press in association with The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2017. 324 pp.; 290 b/w ills. Hardcover $45.00 (9780300227222)
Sculpture Vertical, Horizontal, Closed, Open is based on the five lectures, collectively titled “Sculpture on the Threshold—An Enquiry into the Underlying Forms of Sculpture,” that Penelope Curtis delivered as the 2015 Paul Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art in London. The framework of the lecture series, given biennially since 1994 by selected leading scholars of British art, accounts for the specific national focus of the book, though at times it seems incongruous for... Full Review
January 22, 2019
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Wendy Kaplan and Staci Steinberger
Exh. cat. Munich: DelMonico Books-Prestel, 2017. 360 pp.; 243 color ills.; 104 b/w ills. Cloth $65.00 (9783791356709)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, September 19, 2017–April 1, 2018
As the migration of people across national borders becomes an increasingly contentious issue, Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985 offers a history of the impact of one specific geographic migration of people and ideas back and forth across the Mexico-California border. This catalogue accompanies an exhibition that took place at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from September 17, 2017, to April 1, 2018. The exhibition and catalogue were created to... Full Review
January 22, 2019
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Brian D. Goldstein
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017. 400 pp.; 42 b/w ills. Cloth $39.95 (9780674971509)
Angel David Nieves
Rochester: University of Rochester Press and Boydell & Brewer, 2018. 256 pp.; 36 b/w ills. Cloth $49.95 (9781580469098)
Architectural historians have reason to welcome The Roots of Urban Renaissance: Gentrification and the Struggle over Harlem and An Architecture of Education: African American Women Design the New South. Brian D. Goldstein, an architecture, urban, and planning historian, and Angel David Nieves, an architecture and urban historian with expertise in the digital humanities, tell important stories that enrich our understanding of architecture and planning in relationship to race,... Full Review
January 16, 2019
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Jean-François Charnier
Skira, 2018. 128 pp.; 150 color ills. Paper $34.95 (9782370740748)
Jean-Luc Martinez and Juliette Trey
Exh. cat. Paris: Editions Xavier Barral, 2017. 381 pp.; 210 ills. Cloth € 49.00 (9782365111546)
Louvre Abu Dhabi, with the Musée du Louvre and the Agence France-Museums, Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 21, 2017–April 7, 2018
In November 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its magnificent buildings and dome, which reflect contemplatively on the conventional white-cube gallery and local architectural traditions. To this reviewer the building is eclipsed by the collection. The Louvre Abu Dhabi has acquired objects from 3000 <span... Full Review
January 14, 2019
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